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Parkinson's disease and osteoporosis

Parkinson's disease and osteoporosis
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Age & Ageing

March 2013
van den Bos F, Speelman AD, Samson M, Munneke M, Bloem BR, Verhaar HJJ


Background: patients with Parkinson's disease (PD) have a high risk of sustaining osteoporotic fractures as a result of falls and reduced bone mass.

Objective: to summarise the underlying pathophysiological mechanisms of bone loss in PD by reviewing the available literature.

Methods: a Medline search was performed for articles published between January 1975 and January 2011, using the keywords ‘bone mineral density’, ‘bone loss’, ‘bone metabolism’, ‘osteoporosis’, ‘osteopenia’, ‘Parkinson's disease’ and ‘Parkinsonism’.

Results: PD patients have a lower bone mineral density (BMD) than age-matched controls. Bone loss in PD is multifactorial, resulting from immobility, decreased muscle strength, and low body weight. Vitamin D deficiency is also important, not only because it reduces BMD, but also because cell function in the substantia nigra depends on vitamin D. Lastly, hyperhomocysteinaemia, an independent risk factor for osteoporosis, is common in PD, due to levodopa use, as well as vitamin B12 and folic acid deficiency. A few studies have demonstrated that treatment with bisphosphonates, vitamin D and calcium can increase BMD and reduce fractures in PD patients.

Conclusion: bone loss in PD is multifactorial. It is clinically important because of the concomitant risk of fractures. Screening for osteoporosis should be considered more often, and therapeutic interventions should be initiated.